With a push for American Manufacturing, here are 3 important challenges to our reshoring efforts.
If you think back to Trump’s campaign days, one of the main themes of his time spent on the trail was that he’d work towards bringing back American jobs. In 2016, after decades of losing jobs to offshore manufacturing, there was finally a net positive gain of 30,000 positions in the U.S. With the increase of overseas labor costs and the average American consumer’s preference for U.S.-made brands, the focus of reshoring is seen as a positive for the economy despite the difficulties that come with it.
But, as we take the first of many steps in the direction of our reshoring efforts, we should prep for the next hurdle that American manufacturing is set to face. Do our American products stand up to their overseas counterparts? How can we support the bright future of the industry that will benefit both those filling the job openings and the consumers using the products that are created?
Below are 3 key challenges to consider as we look to the future of American manufacturing.
The Millennial Generation Prefers to Don a White Collar
Over the past decade, high schools have encouraged the millennial generation to attend college and earn 4-year degrees over trade schools, apprenticeship, and other skills-based opportunities. This has led to a thin post-college job market, and a shocking 91% of millennials report difficulty securing a job after graduation.
Yet the Department of Labor reports a large demand for semi-skilled workers that this Millennial generation could fill; it’s a step that could provide security for the worker and boost America’s manufacturing industry. One example is the carpentry trade that’s expected to grow 24% by 2022. This career path offers an average salary of $90,000 and doesn’t require a college degree.
As the manufacturing industry continues to add more jobs over the next decade, the rhetoric of high school guidance counselors, family members, and other influences needs to shift back to one that shows support for trade schools, apprenticeships, and other skills-based career paths.
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Lagging Regulations Stand to Make American Products Inferior
Along with the promise of building up the American workforce, the Trump administration is focused on removing regulations that are costly to the American business sector. Claims have been made that these regulations kill numerous job opportunities, but certain red tape that’s in place allows the manufacturing industry to build and maintain trust with consumers. Take for example the cosmetic industry that’s faced legal trouble over cancer-linked talcum powder and asbestos fibers in its products. Other countries including those in the European Union have completely banned the inclusion of these substances, yet the U.S. still allows potentially harmful products to make their way into consumers’ hands.
Statistics show a heavy preference for U.S.-made products, with 8 out of 10 Americans reporting that they would prefer to buy products made on their home soil. One of the reasons for this preference lies in the belief that American products are of higher quality than their international counterparts. If quality is a determining factor in U.S. consumers’ buying decisions, then these high-quality products should also safely benefit the consumer.
Suppliers Are Found Globally Rather Than on U.S. Soil
Have you ever read a label that says something along the lines of “made in America with global parts”? The hard truth about this product is that it’s not 100% made in the U.S.A. Manufacturing companies have been struggling to find suppliers of materials that both reside in the U.S. and are affordable. A step to overcoming the problem has been to internationally source these “global materials” while still assembling them on U.S. soil. Although the majority of Americans prefer to buy U.S. goods over foreign imports, the reality is that lower price points dictate their final purchase decision, one that supports the global industry
This may seem like an elusive challenge for the manufacturing industry, but the Millennial generation stands to tackle the problem head on. In Nielson’s 2015 Global Corporate Sustainability Report, 73% of Millennials reported that they would spend more on a product if it comes from a sustainable brand. With values like corporate responsibility and sustainability driving the up-and-coming generation’s purchasing habits, the manufacturing industry may have a unique opportunity to find suppliers at a higher price tag without sacrificing their business goals.
The manufacturing industry faces challenges that may seem like daunting ones to combat. But, the American fighting spirit is not known to be weak, and we should continue to see positive changes in the years to come.
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